The Fictional and Real Usage of Area Code “555” for Telephone Numbers

telephone-555

Not all phone numbers that begin with “555” are fictional. The phone number “555-1212” is one of the standard numbers for directory assistance throughout the United States of America and Canada and only “555-0100” through “555-0199” are specifically reserved for fictional use with the other numbers being reserved for actual assignment

The Traditional Sherpa’s of Mount Everest

sherpa

The term “sherpa” is derived from the terms “shyar” (pronounced “shur”) which means “east” and “pa” which means “people” in Nepali. Migrants who populated the region around Mount Everest throughout antiquity came from the Tiber in the east, crossing the Nangpa La, which means “Elder’s Pass” in Nepali, to settle into Solukhumbu (pronounced “solo-koom-boo”), a region in which the minimum altitude is 4000 meters above sea level. Living a nomadic lifestyle is what made the sherpas expertise so desirable to British mountaineers who arrived a few centuries later. British mountain climbers realized the immense value that these expert travelers possessed which is how the relationship of domestic sherpas and foreign alpinists began. Sherpas were and continue to serve as porters and guides for foreign climbers and during the modern day, a sherpa trekking Mount Everest can expect to earn $6000.00 upon an expedition which intends to reach the summit

The Traditional Practice of the Japanese Geisha

Japanese-geisha

Japanese geishas, referred to as “geiko” (pronounced “gay-ko”) first appeared 300 years ago during the Edo period, an era when Japan was closed to the rest of the world allowing its indigenous culture to flourish. There were once 80,000 geisha but that number has dropped to just 1000 during the modern day. It takes 5 long years to become a geisha, this time spent with no smartphone, no romantic relationships, and only 2 days off per month. Geishas undergo lessons in music and dance as well as tea making and etiquette. All food and lodging is provided by the geisha training institution so that students become completely and totally immersed within the geisha lifestyle. Geishas wear white masks of makeup as symbolism that what is concealed is more desirable than that which is revealed. Pink is painted onto the earlobes as a way to hide embarrassment from blushing, and bare skin is left in a “W” or “V” shape upon the back of the neck to accentuate the neck which is considered highly beautiful, sexual, and erotic in Japanese culture. Geishas are only supposed to entertain their client with highly cultured activities, and the profession is not supposed to be associated with sexual interaction

The Tallest Mountain On Earth

Mauna-Kea

Mauna Kea (pronounced “mah-nah kay-ah”) is the tallest mountain in the world, 1.6 kilometers taller than Mount Everest. The main difference between Mauna Kea and Mount Everest is that Mauna Kea ascends from the ocean, instead of from land as Mount Everest does. Mauna Kea is not only the largest mountain on Earth, it is also the largest land mass in the world

The Tradition and Method of Selecting a New Pope

Vatican-SmokeMurder, bribery, and nepotism were the primary ways in which a pope would enter or exit the papacy prior to the 12th century. It was during the 12th century that cardinals who were senior clergy in Rome, Italy created what they referred to as a “college” to act as a council which would regulate the elections of future popes. This system became referred to as the “conclave” which refers to the practice of a “private meeting assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope”. The term “conclave” was chosen because of the Latin term “con” with means “with” and the Latin term “clavin” which means “key”, more literally translating to “locked room” as cardinals would be locked away to avoid the interference of outside politics. As of 1274 A.D., all papal elections are held in secret, adhering to this strict tradition in an attempt to remain unbiased. Elections are held again and again until a 66% majority is achieved at which point white smoke is released to signify that the council has reached a decision. The election ballets from each voting round are burned so that the election is completely anonymous and private, even for those who are present in the meeting. It is this burning which creates the iconography of the smoke being released to signify a decision. In the Middle Ages, cardinals added damp straw to the ballots which created black smoke to signify that a pope had not yet been chosen. White smoke was created by burning the paper alone, but during the modern day, chemical additives are added to ensure the white smoke color is as unambiguous as possible

The Oldest Artwork in Human History

Chauvet-Cave-artwork

Near the Ardeche River (pronounced “arr-desh”) in southern France, less than 0.5 kilometers away, 3 explorers set out a few days before Christmas in 1994. While seeking drafts of air emanating from the ground which would point to the presence of caves, these explorers found a subtle airflow which was blockaded by rocks. The explorers found a narrow shaft which was cut into the cliffside, so narrow in fact that their bodies could just barely squeeze through it. Deep inside the cave the explorers stumbled upon the oldest known cave paintings in human history, twice as old as any other artistic depiction made by human hands. The cave itself had been perfectly sealed for tens of thousands of years which is why this 32,000 year old artwork was found in pristine condition. In honor of the lead discover Jean-Marie Chauvet (pronounced “zhan mah-ree sho-vee”), the cave was named “Chauvet Cave”. The French Ministry of Culture controls all access to the cave, an intervention which was rapidly implemented as this discovery was immediately understood as an enormous scientific find, perhaps one of the greatest anthropological and artistic discoveries ever made. Scientists and art historians are typically the only members of the public permitted access to Chauvet Cave, with archeologists, paleontologists, and geologists being the most common interdisciplinary teams provided entry

Captain James Morgan and the Rum Named After Him

Captain-James-MorganThe tiny island of Île à Vache, Haiti (pronounced “eel ah vash”) was the location Captain Henry Morgan decided to setup a base of operations to harass the French and Spanish who controlled the mainland. The British, French, and Spanish fought furiously 300 years ago for the spoils which came along with the conquer and colonization of the New World. Captain Morgan lives on in modern culture as the Captain Morgan rum manufacturer takes its image and name from this famous British privateer

The Hijacking of Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog Character by the Fringe Political Movement of the Alt Right

Matt-Furie-Pepe-the-FrogThe Pepe the Frog character and meme rose to ascension during the presidency of Donald Trump because of the 4Chan.org website which was created by Christopher Poole. Poole’s system leveraged Darwinian survival as the base for his new forum system in which posts with a lot of traction would float to the top, allowing even more people to become exposed to them, and posts which had little traction sinking to the bottom where they would inevitably die out. This method of selection and rejection is immensely conducive to creating memes as users, overwhelmingly adolescent males, would compete upon 4Chan to create the most bizarre and outrageous memes and replies possible. 4Chan exacerbates this behavior by allowing users to remain anonymous and therefore able to express opinions and/or ask questions or provide answers to material which they normally would not engage in conversation in, during their day to day life, for fear of retribution for deviating outside of typical social convention. Pepe the Frog became a meme circulated almost exclusively upon 4Chan as the other major social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) did not observe spikes in content related to this meme due to the user base that uses these platforms being unaware of it as 4Chan is a relatively obscure online forum. Pepe the Frog eventually became adopted by those within society who did not feel marginalized, people who visited 4Chan in search of Pepe the Frog memes, rather than for communication with 4Chan members, which ascended Pepe the Frog into popular culture. Those who initially propelled Pepe the Frog into the counter culture of 4Chan felt overlooked and as a direct result, this marginalized group started to produce increasingly offensive content related to Pepe the Frog, with the hope that it would deter others from using the meme which was believed to be exclusively reserved as a 4Chan character, despite having been stolen from the original artist Matt Furie, who created the character in 2005 for his comic book publication Boys Club, a storyline about 4 friends, including Pepe the Frog, who spent time together. Pepe the Frog was depicted upon 4Chan as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, crashing into the World Trade Towers, with tattoos of German Nazi and white supremacist symbols etc. (e.g. swastika, Celtic cross, 14/88 which refers to Adolf Hitler etc.). These derivative depictions and memes began to become widely circulated upon 4Chan and other websites found online, as Pepe the Frog displays both innocence in his depiction but also malevolence while engaging in horrific acts (e.g. abhorrently forcing a gas mask onto an unfair, stereotypical characterization of a Jewish person). It is Pepe the Frog’s smile while performing these actions which allowed his popularity grow online as virtually any despicable act could be depicted as a joke because of the juxtaposition between Pepe the Frog and the victim being attacked. This emboldened those making these offensive memes as the work started to become viewed as hyperbole and comical, which acted as a defense for creating new content as those engaged believed that their work could always be interpreted and defended as satire, therefore free of scrutiny from authorities or those who reject the Alt Right ideology (e.g. law enforcement investigating a hate crime etc.)

The Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Lighthouse-of-AlexandriaThe Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Standing more than 350’ tall, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and was clearly observable to passing ships sailing up to 50 kilometers away. Originally built in 280 B.C., after guiding ships into the port and city of Alexandria for 15 centuries, the Lighthouse of Alexandria collapsed in 1323 due to a series of earthquakes which leveled the structure and caused it to tumble into the Mediterranean Sea. The Citadel of Qaitbay (pronounced “kate-bay”), a 500 year old fortress, now sits at the site of the once standing lighthouse with many of the stones within this structure, pieces of the original Lighthouse of Alexandria, installed after being dredged up from the ocean floor. Although the Lighthouse of Alexandria was originally designed to safely bring ships into the port of Alexandria, the Citadel of Qaitbay acted in opposition as a repellent centuries later, designed to keep enemies (e.g. Ottoman Turks) out of Egypt. No ship was permitted the privilege of docking in the Alexandria harbor without forfeiting all books on board for a short period of time until they could be translated and/or copied outright by scribes